Rono Hills: Borderland Narratives, the three-day festival of films from contemporary Northeast India, was on Saturday inaugurated at the Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) campus at Rono Hills in Arunachal Pradesh through invocation of chants and blessings by the monks of Thuntan Gatselling Monastery of Itanagar.
In all, 19 filmmakers representing the eight states of the Northeast region are participating in the festival to share their films and to have extended interactions with the audience.
Speaking on the occasion, chief patron of the festival and RGU vice-chancellor Professor Saket Kushwaha, while elaborating on the role that cinema has on society, said that “films have the real potential for bringing out the ‘post-truth’”.
“On the one hand, cinemas bring out the practices and the truth from the past and from the existing cultures, and on the other, they also bring out trends to the people and we learn a lot from that”, Professor Kushwaha said.
Citing example of the cartoon character ‘Popeye the Sailor’, he narrated how a film can be convincing just like the cartoon convinced and encouraged children to eat spinach instead of fast food.
Sometimes, when we compare the impact that filmmakers have on audiences, we realise that films reach out as a very powerful medium. So we really need to salute the work that filmmakers do in the pursuit of their art, the VC said.
He further assured that the RGU, to the fullest, would support the film festival.
Richa Negi, regional director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (INGCA), Guwahati, expressed pleasure and gratitude to be a part of the important event. “This is a landmark in itself,” she said.
Informing that INGCA has established several regional centers all over the country like the one in Guwahati, she said, that the center concentrates on the tradition and cultural practices in the region by which it can conduct research, surveys and publications of films and documentation.
“At the moment, IGNCA is in the process of signing MoUs with various universities from all over the country to conduct studies in areas of mutual interest”, Negi said adding that the IGNCA was looking forward for a long term collaboration with Rajiv Gandhi University.
Earlier, Professor Simon John, Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies (AITS) and festival director, while welcoming the filmmakers and other dignitaries said the aim of this festival is to bring filmmakers from the region together under one platform.
“We are currently focusing on the filmmakers and directors of North-East India who are making films of different communities and are engaging in new ways. While “scholars are not filmmakers but we are very interested in audio-visual documentation as we need such documents as a supplement for our research,” Professor John said.
Welcoming the filmmakers and introducing “Borderland Narratives-2019”, festival director Moji Riba said, “Art has a responsibility to shape the way society evolves.”
He elaborated that the idea of organizing the festival was also to see how stories of our cultural heritage and of our lives in the present are narrated in new forms and innovative idioms.
Professor Jumyir Basar of the AITS also spoke.
As a part of the programme, Professor Kushwaha and AITS founding director Professor Tamo Mibang released the newsletter of the Centre for Endangered Languages as well as the Festival Booklet.
The opening day saw films like Those Songs and Lullabies I Used to Sing by Kombong Darang (CFEL, RGU), Loktak Lairembee by Haobam Paban Kumar (Manipur), Nana by Tiemsumuk Aier (Nagaland), Songs of the Blue Hills by Utpal Borpujari (Assam) and Ralang Road by Karma Takapa (Sikkim) being screened.
Borderland Narratives is organised by the Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies in collaboration with the IGNCA, Guwahati. CCRD, Mishmi Takin, Centre for Endangered Languages and the RGU’s department of mass communication are the festival partners.